's top ten stories of 2009

Mike Schramm
M. Schramm|12.18.09

Sponsored Links's top ten stories of 2009
What a year it's been for the World of Warcraft. We've had three big content patches, a BlizzCon, an expansion announcement, and perhaps out of all of the five years this game has been running, this was the year with the most surprises. A few things players thought would never happen (including faction changes) finally did, and we saw quite a few new tricks from Blizzard, both in terms of game features and in the way they run the game at large. 2009 was also a year of expectation: we thrilled to leaks and rumors about Cataclysm, and all year long, we looked forward to the villian that has been set up for us ever since 2008's Wrath release: the Lich King himself.

As we've done for the past couple of years, let's take a look back at the most popular stories of 2009 here on We'll start first with number 10, which also came as a surprise to many players, right after the break.

Number 10: Money mixing up with in-game items
The MMO market has been inundated lately with many different ways for game developers to make money, from sending their games free-to-play and charging for certain items, or selling content piece-by-piece episodically or otherwise. But we were all taken by surprise this past November, when, though they'd never actually said they wouldn't, Blizzard finally started selling in-game items for real life cash. The outcry was predictable, but legit: even though it certainly seems Blizzard will stick to vanity items, it was still a first step towards a business model that gamers seem to dislike. And let's not forget the Mountain Dew Battle Bots, and even the Night Elf Mohawk grenades -- even though those were free, Blizzard definitely spent part of 2009 trying out brand new ways to use in-game items to make us think about out-of-game products. Look for more in the future.

Number 9: WoW changes hands and goes offline in China
This has been a saga for the ages, and it hasn't affected anyone yet in North America or Europe. Very early in the year, we heard through the rumor mill that Blizzard wasn't happy with the way The9 was running their game in China, and that when they got a chance, they'd switch providers to NetEase. Of course, the rumors turned out to be true, and that's when things started falling apart. The9 first said they'd share their servers, and then said NetEase was on their own, causing the game to go offline. Eventually they got it back up and running as a free-to-play game, and then when they started charging again, China's General Administration of Press and Publications claimed they didn't have a license to do so, threatening to shut the game down once more. Currently, it's still up and running (the Ministry of Culture is fighting to keep it online, claiming that they approved the game's license), but it's likely that the audience is a fraction of what it once was, and the game over there still hasn't released the Wrath expansion. Not a good year for Blizzard in China.

Number 8: Upcoming mount changes
This post is sort of an aberration on this list -- it's not a gigantic event or a yearlong trend, and it's probably the most common news post on the list. It's just a quick update on the mount changes in patch 3.2. But somehow, it earned enough views to compete with the big boys -- when we looked at the list of the most popular posts of the year, this one happened to be in there along with the big patch notes and Cataclysm news. Why? It's hard to say for sure (we've linked it back quite a bit since then, and I do remember we talked about it quite a bit on the podcast), but I'd like to think that despite all of the new raid content and the big gameplay features and the new gear and endgame grinds and crafting items, most people just want to know when they can ride their pony.

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